Beekeeping Calendar-Spring

Spring beekeeping activities

Every spring the beekeeper does more or less the same activities. Thus, in early spring the person keeping bees has to check every bee hive to see if the queen bee is still alive and still capable of lying eggs. The beekeeping hives have to be inspected carefully to identify the possible disease and to make sure that the honeybees have food to last until the first honey production of the year.

Even if the bees seem to be healthy, it is better to give them various medications in order to prevent the outburst of different bee diseases. (For more information see the chapter about honeybee's diseases). In this season, it is advisable to check each colony and swarm at least once every other week and give them the necessary treatment.

When the bees occupy seven frames in the superior level, it is high time you added a new level. Two week before nectar gathering you have to stop the medication administration in order to make sure that the medicine will not contaminate the honey purity.

Beehives

What does a beekeeper have to do in spring?

1.Prepare the apiary and the hive for the next beekeeping season

When early spring sets in the beekeeper has lost of work to do in his/her apiary. This in the first days of March (if the weather is warm enough), the apiary has to be cleaned, the remaining snow shoveled off, the leaves and branched fallen on the ground during winter must be moved away. The hives have to be placed properly with the entrance headed towards south-east so the honeybees will get full advantage of the sun warmth. The hive entrances are cleaned and the dead bees on them are removed. The protection fence around the apiary has to be removed so as to protect honeybees from cold winds in early spring.

2. Supervision of cleansing flight

The honeybees do not defecate inside the hive. Thus, in winter they accumulate into their bowels lots of waste that needs to be eliminated in spring. Thus, when the outside temperature reaches 15 degrees Celsius it is high time to stimulate the cleansing flights.

If there is still snow in the apiary, it is advisable to cover the ground with straw. The hive entrances are opened and the top of the hive boxes are lifted up a bit so as to allow the sunbeams to penetrate the hive. This will determine honeybees to come out of the hive and do their cleansing flight. When the flight is over, the hive entrances are reduce to a 3 cm width and the tops of the hives are placed in their normal position.

This is the time when some beekeepers introduce in the center of the beekeeping hive an empty honeycomb in which they pour 1-2 kilos of lukewarm sugar syrup.

3. The first beehive inspection and nest tightening

A beekeeper at work When the weather is warm enough, it is high time to make the first hive inspection, during which the beekeepers asses the overall well-being of the colonies of bees. This is also the time to do some nest tightening.
The beekeeper has to make sure that there is enough food in each hive and that the queen bees are still alive. The later can be done by looking for the eggs. If there are no eggs, there is no need to panic since some queen bees start laying eggs later in spring. For this reason it is better to repeat the inspection after a week.

During this first inspection the beekeeper must remove the moldy honeycombs, the ones with diarrhea stains and those which have too many drone cells.

It has been noticed that a colony of bees develops at its best if the level of the ideal temperature is preserved. In order to do this, it is necessary to stump the nest. The honeycomb filled with eggs and larvae are put in the middle between honeycombs filled with honey and pollen. Within the hive are left just the honeycombs that the bees can cover entirely. The whole colony of bees must have 4-5 kilos storage of honey. Pay attention not to kill the queen bee during all these activities.

It is also advisable to move the bee families into hive boxes that have been cleaned, repaired and disinfected.


4. Saving the starving honeybees

Saving the colonies of bees that have exhausted their food storage is not a complicated operation and can be easily done by a beginner beekeeper as well. In order to do that the beekeeper can use the honey that other bee families in the apiary no longer need. Honeycomb honey or liquid honey can also be used to save the starving insects. If the starving colony of bees does not have available honeycombs inside the hive, then these are taken from other hives. If no honeycombs are available then you can use warm, diluted honey that has to be poured in new honeycombs. The bees can also be fed with cakes made of crystalized honey and powder sugar or with sugar sherbet. These cakes are put on the upper side of the frames. However, utmost attention must be paid so as not to overly feed the colony. If the bees receive too much food, then the hive balance might be affected.

5. Rounding the pollen storages

For the development of the new generation of honeybees a lot of honey and pollen is need. The absence of pollen is a serious problem. In order to avoid this, mix equal quantities of honey and pollen and stir until you obtain a homogenous paste; use this paste to form cakes that are put on top of the frames.

6. Sanitizing the beekeeping hive

The hives have to disinfect in order to preserve the health of the colony of bees that lives within each hive. The bee families must be moved in hive boxes that have been previously cleaned and disinfected. The beeswax and propolis remnants have to be taken out of the hive and the same goes for diarrhea stains. The sanitizing process goes one by cleaning the box with a special solution. The process is complete once the box is dried and buckled.

7. Widening the nests

This is a very important operation if we consider that the beekeeper's intervention can do a lot of good but also a lot of harm if it is not performed correctly. The nest has to be widened in order to allow the queen bee to lay her eggs. However, there are certain elements to be considered before starting any activity:

1.There are enough nanny bees for all the eggs; if there are not enough "nannies" the larva will not get enough royal jelly.
2.There are abundant pollen storages within the hive.
3. External weather condition
4.Hive condition

Bee home at meadow When all the honeycombs (expect the ones on the edges that are filled with honey and pollen) are filled with eggs it is time to proceed with the nest widening. A new honeycomb is put between the one with eggs and the one with honey. When this is also filled with eggs, it is time to put another one and the operation is repeated in accordance with the honeybee population growth. The queen bee can be determined to lay eggs in the new honeycombs by splashing them with lukewarm water or diluted honey.

The nest widening can be done with the help of an artificial honeycomb. This honeycomb is placed after the last honeycomb filled with eggs and when half of its cells have been built up; it is moved in the middle of the hive. These techniques apply to horizontal or vertical beehives with storage space.

For the multilayered hives other widening techniques are used. It this case the widening is done by reversing the boxes and the frames.

8. Strengthening weak colonies of bees

No matter how hard you try, there will always be colonies of bees that do not develop as they should. In order to strengthen a colony of bees, the beekeeper takes frames with bee brood from powerful families and puts them into the hives belonging to the weak families.



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